Survive or Prevail

I read a posting on Facebook about a man on death row for 33 years before being executed. Think about it from the victim’s family’s perspective — waiting 33 years for some sort of closure.

How old are you today? Think about your age 33 years before today, and your ages 33 years after today. That’s a mighty long time.

But it’s not so much his story that I want to focus on here. It’s something posted in the comments on the story.

They mentioned the writings of Dr. Alexis Artwohl. It was Chuck Haggard that wrote:

Her statment [sic] was to a class I was in, she was addressing mindset and training for cops. She thought that the “officer survival” idea was setting the bar too low. If you set the bar at “survive”, and you fall short, then where does that leave you? She thought officers should be training to prevail, to dominate a fight, not just survive, then if they fall short of the goal hopefully they will at least survive. Then she said; “And if you can’t survive then you need to take the motherfucker with you, do not make your family sit through a murder trial”.

Dr. Artwohl makes a good point when it comes to mindset: to survive? or to prevail?

You’ve heard people say things like “shoot for the moon, because if you miss at least you land amongst the stars” or other such sayings. The point is to aim high, strive for as much as you can. If you achieve it, life will be awesome. But if you fall short, you’ll still be in pretty good shape. There is also the implication that if you strive for anything less, life won’t be so good. It’s about “margin of error” allowing for the fact that life may not always come out like you want or plan it, so you need to aim high enough, far enough, so if things don’t work out precisely as planned, at least they’ll work out acceptably. Else, things could be pretty bad.

So if we consider this a reasonable procedure for the rest of life, be it our jobs, the people we marry, our hobbies, sports, whatever pursuits we have in life… why don’t we follow the same procedure for our very life itself?

Perhaps it’s because it sounds too aggressive to “win”. It’s more socially acceptable to be a survivor. It seems like you have to go on the offense to prevail, when we’re taught so much that it’s better to be defensive (never mind that the best defense is a good offense). Social conditioning at work? Perhaps to our detriment?

Consider your focus, consider how you frame things. Is it to just survive? or is it to prevail? If you fail to survive, you certainly did not prevail. But if you fail to prevail, you may still be able to survive.

Strive to prevail.

2 thoughts on “Survive or Prevail

  1. Or… Take your philosophy one step further, overcome the ego of individuality, take pride in and form your identity from the species you belong to, identify yourself with humanity and strive to develop human, homo sapiens, qualities to the full, and strive to ensure human survival in this world that we need to protect if we humanity is going to survive. Yes, you are right, we need to see the bigger picture.

  2. I’ve always liked the disproportionate response scenario when it comes to people who would, or do, harm others.

    Sad that these days that can get you into a lot of trouble. Not civilized, you see.

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